WC warm-up: Spinners script emphatic turn-around
Chayan Rastogi/Vaibhav Arora
Bangalore: Indian spinners scripted an emphatic turn-around victory in their first warm-up match against Australia as they routed defending champions by 38 runs to earn a morale-boosting victory here ahead of their road to World Cup glory.
Defending a small total of 214 runs under lights at M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Australia looked on course for an easy victory as they sailed past 100 runs in 18 overs but with captain MS Dhoni introducing spin into attack, Australian middle order fell like a pack of cards and got bundled out for 176 runs in 37.5 overs.
The spin trio of Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla and R Ashwin shared eight wickets among them while part-timer Yuvraj Singh and pacer Sreesanth picked up one wicket apiece.
Chawla, who was a surprise inclusion in 15-player Indian squad for the World Cup, scalped 4 wickets and proved his critics wrong as he was virtually unplayable on the pitch that was assisting slow bowlers.
Australian skipper Ricky Ponting (57) was the highest scorer from the Australian side and was seventh wicket to depart as no middle-order batsman looked to apply himself on a turning track.
Earlier, India were all out for 214 in their World Cup warm-up match against Australia.
Virender Sehwag was the top scorer with a well-made 54 off 56 balls. Yusuf Pathan contributed 32 while Ravichnadran Ashwin (25 not out) and Ashish Nehra (19) took the team past 200 with a 27-run stand for the last wicket.
India were bowled out in 44.3 overs, though at one stage, it looked like the hosts would be packed off much earlier when they were struggling at 138/8.
Pathan and Ashwin forged a 49-run stand for the ninth wicket to add respectability to the total.
Brett Lee led the Australian charge, taking three wickets while John Hastings and David Hussey took two wickets each.
Earlier, India lost a couple of crucial wickets as they slid from a comfortable 54/1 to a rather precarious 63/3. Yuvraj Singh (1) was the latest victim as he was removed by Mitchell Johnson off a delivery that climbed sharply and caught the batsman unaware.
India were off to a steady start in their first warm-up game against Australia as they went past the 50-run mark in the 10th over of the innings.
However, the Indians lost the crucial wickets of Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli in process. While Gambhir made 6, Kohli was out for 21 runs.
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat first in their warm-up game against Australia at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
India have decided to rest Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan.
With memories of 2007 Caribbean World Cup disaster, where they rashed out in the opening round after losing to Bangladesh in the first match, still fresh in their minds the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side will be extra careful against the title holders Australia, who are coming into the tournament high on confidence after the 6-1 thrashing of England.
The match against Australia will also give an opportunity to middle-order batsmen Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to return to form.
The trio of Dhoni, Yuvraj and Raina all got starts in South Africa but failed to capitalize on them and would be desperate to return to form.
The match is of special importance for Raina, who faces tough competition from Virat Kohli and Yusuf Pathan, to retain his place in the playing eleven.
Australia (Playing XV): Shane Watson, Brad Haddin(w), Ricky Ponting(c), Michael Clarke, Cameron White, David Hussey, Steven Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Jason Krejza, Doug Bollinger, John Hastings, Tim Paine, Shaun Tait, Callum Ferguson
India (Playing XIII): Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni(w/c), Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel, Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin, Piyush Chawla, S Sreesanth